Super Rugby - Western Force
Force won't compromise for O'Connor
July 10, 2013

Western Force back-rower Ben McCalman says James O'Connor must prove he can adhere to strict team values if the Perth-based franchise is to welcome him back.

O'Connor is on the lookout for a new club after being axed by the Melbourne Rebels earlier this week. The 23-year-old is one of Australia's brightest talents on the field, but his brash and divisive behaviour off it has seriously hurt his career prospects.

New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies have already ruled out making a play for O'Connor, while Queensland Reds don't seem to be interested either. That leaves only the Western Force as an option for O'Connor if he wants to continue his career in Australia.

O'Connor left the Force in bitter circumstances two years ago. But the Force are willing to forgive, and are contemplating whether to offer O'Connor a contract if he agrees to abide by their strict terms.

"He was very successful when he was here a few years ago," McCalman said. "He's a great player to have on the field. He's very skilful, with natural talent. But in saying that, we've worked very hard over the last year to set values and standards through captain Matt Hodgson and the senior players. We'd love to have him here, but not at the cost of compromising what we've already set up. Hopefully he sorts those things out and he ends up here."

The Force will be back in action on Saturday night when they take on the third-placed Brumbies at Perth's nib Stadium.

McCalman, who played 20 minutes off the bench for the Wallabies in their 41-16 defeat to the British & Irish Lions on Saturday night, said the 13th-placed Force were determined to finish their disappointing season on a high.


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